New policy encourages vaccination by tying losses and lost pay to low vaccination rates

TORONTO (August 3, 2021) – The Canadian Football League (CFL) has introduced a policy that will apply to any game cancellations caused by COVID-19 issues.

“Our goal is to ensure we have zero game cancellations due to issues caused by an outbreak of COVID-19 within our football operations,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the CFL.

“While this policy spells out what will happen if cancellations do occur, its main purpose is to encourage all of our players to get fully vaccinated in order to minimize the risk to our season and, most importantly, their health and safety.”

According to the policy, if a game cannot be played as scheduled because of COVID-19 issues, and it cannot be rescheduled:

  • And one club is suffering from the COVID-19 issues, that club will forfeit the game and be assigned a loss while its’ opponent will be credited with a win by a score of 1-0.
  • And both clubs are suffering from the COVID-19 issues, then both clubs will forfeit the game and be assigned a loss.

In both of these circumstances, if a team can prove that 85 per cent of its’ players under contract have been vaccinated, at least once and preferably fully, its players will receive their salary for the cancelled game. If the team falls below that 85 per cent threshold, the entire team will not receive its salary.

As of last Friday’s league-wide roster cutdown, 79 per cent of CFL players are fully or partially vaccinated. Three CFL teams have more than 85 per cent of their players vaccinated. The other six teams have vaccination rates ranging from 67 per cent to 81 per cent.

The league also announced today its latest COVID-19 testing results: from July 15 to the end of training camp last Friday, the league administered approximately 6,000 COVID-19 tests to its Tier 1 personnel, which included players, coaches and support staff. Those tests resulted in zero individuals returning a positive test result for COVID-19.

“While these results are encouraging, we simply cannot be lulled into a very false sense of security, not when Delta and other variants are making their way through parts of Canada, and they have been attacking unvaccinated people in the US and Canada,” Ambrosie said.

“The most important thing everyone can do to protect themselves, and the most important thing our players can do to protect themselves and our season, is to get vaccinated.”

The league’s cancellation policy further says a game will be cancelled if any of the following conditions are met:

  • Its’ playing is precluded by a decision by a government health authority.
  • A team does not have 36 players to dress for the game;
  • A team does not have an individual available to coach the offence and another individual to coach the defence;
  • A team does not have a certified athletic therapist and sports medicine physician available for the game.

In addition, the Commissioner can cancel a game at his discretion following consultation with the CFL’s Chief Medical Officers and the CFLPA.

The CFL kicks off its 2021 season Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET when its defending champions, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a rematch of the 107th Grey Cup. On Friday night, the Saskatchewan Roughriders host the BC Lions at 9:30 p.m. ET. A Saturday double-header features the Calgary Stampeders hosting the Toronto Argonauts at 7:00 p.m. ET followed by the Edmonton Elks hosting the Ottawa REDBLACKS at 10 p.m. ET. All CFL games, including this week’s foursome, will be broadcast in Canada on TSN. RDS carries all Montreal Alouettes games and will broadcast this week’s game between the REDBLACKS and Elks.

Lucas Barrett

Director, Communications & Public Affairs, Canadian Football League

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